The Big Chop …… Thank YOU!

This post is to say a massive Thank You to all of you.

On the 28th of November 2016, courtesy of Toni and Guy in Durham Libby had The Big Chop and has so far raised £760 for The Toma Fund. (I say so far as there is still approximately £100 to come in). This would not have been possible without all of you.

If, you are reading this and have no idea what I am talking about then you can read more over at The Big Chop post.

This huge total would not have been possible without the support of YOU! Whether you donated or bought raffle tickets your donations will all be used to help make boys and girls with cancer in the North of England smile and that is exactly what Libby wants. Continue reading

Where did October go?


You blink then it is gone……

Well that’s what it feels like to me. Where on earth did October go?

I seem to have fallen in to the habit of filling you all in the monthly happenings in The MaryLou house so here goes nothing….

October traditionally stands out to me as the month that we have half term and the month that we celebrate Halloween. I dare say for most of us this is also the case. In some cases you will have started your Christmas shopping and in others you may have completed it (OMG I wish).

We started out the month launching Libby’s event “The Big Chop”. I am sure you have read the post already but in case you haven’t I will give you a brief rundown.


Libby recently asked us to explain to her what Cancer really was. We are very honest with the children and obliged, telling her in as much detail as we could, but still keeping the details child like, what Cancer is, who it can affect and the treatments it can involve. She went away and processed the information and decided she would like to raise money for children and their families “near our house” that are and have been affected by Cancer.

She had already decided she would like to have her hair cut and donate it to The Little Princess Trust but she decided she would like to gain sponsorship for The Toma Fund.

I set about finding a Hair Salon that would be happy to help us and to our delight Toni and Guy came forward and offered to help us at their Durham Salon.

From there, fundraising has gone from strength to strength and over on JustGiving we have so far raised just over £250, we have sponsorship forms out and about that have raised about the same so far, along with that I am running a raffle. When I told Libby’s story there were some amazing people and companies that stepped forward and said they would like to help. We have had some fantastic prize donations from Metro Radio and Brian Moore, Newcastle Greyhound Stadium, Sunderland Greyhound Stadium, Begu Tea, Sharron Bates, Sweet Evangelines, Tanfield Railway, Arriva, Chiquito, tombola, Lickety Split, 3M and Babsyliz.

Numbers are still available over on the Facebook page. Priced at £1 each. All money raised goes to The Toma Fund and will be drawn on the 18th of November or when all the numbers are sold.

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School photo’s….they happened…’s really scary how much a like these too are. Love their pictures though (really must remember to order them this week).


October brings the delivery and publishing of the “Santa Clause Toy Books” to us adults that is the Smyths Book, Argos Christmas Book, Tesco Toy Book and the random other Christmas Toy Books. This year Libby is circling items in Red Pen and Penny has the Black Pen.

As you can see from the picture Penny has spent a lot of time writing her very understandable lists…

We have yet to write our lists properly but high on Penny’s list is a Furby, A Cry Baby and a new Baby Doll.

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Libby has asked for a Hatchimal, a Cry Baby doll, Harley Quinn Doll, Harley Quinn Dress up and a Shibajuku doll.

Lets hope Santa is preparing himself for the pages and pages of the tatty toy books that are heading in his direction.


Penny and I had some lovely jaunts in October to collect prizes for the raffle and just because.

We visited Seaham one very cold windy morning, but there is something so homely about the seaside for me. As you know from previous posts I lose all my woes when I go to the seaside (Even if it is cold, wet and windy).

Whilst there we visited the amazing Lickety Split. We had never been before and I was so desperate to have a try of their treats. Penny was very adamant that she would like a Pink Ice Cream, So she got a Sundae with Strawberry Ice Cream, Bubblegum Ice Cream, Strawberry Sauce and M & M’s.

Her face says it all…..


I was sensible and ordered a Panini…..(lets not mention that I finished Penny’s Sundae shhhhh )


Definitely worth a visit if you have not been before.


A month would not be complete without a night or two with my bestie.

Deborah (Country Heart and Home) and I were invited along to the Autumn and Winter launch at Katie’s Garden in Sunderland. It is always a good night no matter what we do but on this occasion we got craft and create fairy houses together. To read more the post I wrote about the night is Katie’s Garden – Sunderland.


Then came the buying of Halloween Costumes. I begrudge paying an absolute fortune for them and was quite stressed that both the girls needed a new one. Regan had decided that dressing up for Halloween was “not his thing” this year so that left me with just the two too buy.

I did the usual browsing around and was absolutely blown away by not only the selection in Home Bargains but the prices too.

Penny chose a “Pumpkin Witch” Dress and I chose for Libby and got her the “Witch Bride” dress.

Both girls were delighted with their dresses and the hyper for Halloween began.


I had a very productive ride up to the Intu Metro Centre. (I say productive, it was simply made productive as I found my Christmas Eve box PJ bottoms.)

Every year I go up before Christmas and see PJ’s that are Chritmassy and think, yes they are fabulous, I will get them the next time I am here. Then I go back and who knew? They have none left. So I ceased the opportunity and got them and the girls Christmas PJ’s from Primark.

It would be very rude not to pop over to IKEA while I was there of course. So I ventured over and came away with some bits and pieces for people for Christmas, some candles (standard for me ) and some irresistible wrapping paper.


Then came the week of Surgery.

The day before I went in Mark and I were invited to the amazing Crook Hall and Gardens in Durham. What an amazing place to visit. To read more about our visit it is the Crook Hall and Gardens post.


On the evening of the night before surgery, following a family funeral, the hair got cut off. It needed to be off so my surgeon and I could see what was really going on under it. I do find it so liberating having no hair. Cutting it off wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. The gut wrenching when the first clump dropped to the floor was quite significant but I made sure I went straight down the middle first. (No turning back that way) and before I knew it, the hair was no more.


The following morning involved a 4am start and an early arrival at hospital ready for my surgery. I was first on the list and arrived in recovery 4 hours later having had 13 BCC’s removed.

I was really quite poorly after and incurred an overnight stay as a result. Due to the excellent care of the Nursing Staff at UHND,  I went home the following day and I did feel fractionally better. Yet in so much pain. The kids were all on standby though and as one left me to go to bed another one of them took over and made sure I was OK.


As the days have gone by and the stitches have been removed and fallen out I feel a lot better and the scars are so neat and well healed already. The support I was offered by not only family and friends but people that don’t know the full story was unbelievable and I can only thank you all for that. The flowers that got sent from work were also amazing.

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To read more you can find the story on the Surgery Update post and if you want more in depth pictures check out Before, During and After.


Dance Schools Halloween Party. Costume outing number one. In hindsight spraying her hair red for the first outing of the white costume maybe wasn’t the most sensible of ideas but it added to the effect. (the dress however looks like someone has sprayed fake blood all over it).

We painted her face with a lovely little kit from B & M . I got the face paint in there last year and was over the moon to find that they had the same kit in for this year (£3.99). A fraction of the price that bigger shops were selling.

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Oooooh now, Mark’s Bovril addiction is no secret and I thought my Peppermint Tea one was just as bad. That is until my hospital stay. As I can not have caffeine my options were a cold drink or Horlicks. Well I fear I may have developed an addiction that rivals the Bovril addiction.


I have always liked it, but not to this extent. Saying that I think my addiction has been made worse by the fact that I am having to limit myself to one cup a day due to the sheer amount of milk that you use to make it.

Last but not least was Halloween with Deborah (Country House and Home).

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As you well know we always have a good night and it was lovely to be invited down to share Halloween with my Bestie and her beautiful family. The house was decorated fantastically.

This is the first year in quite a few where we haven’t had a party or decorated much. So the decision has been made that we are going all out next year.

Deborah had arranged a Tin Can Alley, Put The Smile on the Skeleton, Bobbing for Apples and some other lovely games for the kids and an amazing spread for us all. Every little detail was considered (I wouldn’t expect anything else from Deborah though). What a fantastic night.

The kids went trick or treating on Halloween itself and came hold with their bags full. They have had “The most fantastical Halloween ever” apparently. I certainly will not argue with that……


UPDATED “The Big Chop”


****UPDATE on “The Big Chop”****

The last time I spoke to you all about Libby’s fundraising mission we had yet to get off the mark.

What a difference a week makes. In that week she has gained £158.00 in sponsorship, not only reaching her initial target of £100 but smashing it. I can’t thank those of you that have donated enough for your generosity.

With every donation that comes in she gets a little bit more excited about what she is going to do and it is a joy to watch her enjoying raising money for such an amazing cause.

“Mummy, I really I am going to make a difference”

She keeps telling me that she would like to raise £300 because “that is even more money and lots”.

For anyone who does not have a clue what I am taking about, please have a read on for the full story on “The Big Chop”.

In the coming weeks I will be hold a fundraising event, more details of that to follow with some big thank you’s alongside it.

I have also managed to set up a TEXTgiving reference so that people that are having issues with or prefer not too do it online can sponsor/donate.

Simply TEXT: LIBB64 followed by £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070, texts are charged at normal rate and the donation amount will be deducted from you bill.


“The Big Chop” post has been in the making for a few weeks but up until now, I hadn’t managed to get it too a point where I was happy with it and I didn’t want to give you half a story.

Earlier in the year Caitlin raised money for and her hair cut for The Little Princess Trust. Libby was very inspired by this and decided that she would like to do the same, but later in the year.

When Libby said she would like to do the same as her sister I was so touched that she wanted to help other children, she knew where the hair was going and that it was going to make wigs for Children with no hair.

“Mum, you had no hair and it grew back, so if I have mine cut short then it will grow back, so I won’t miss it”

Time ticked on and I promised we would have a look in to doing it before Christmas.

I assumed we would be raising money for The Little Princess Trust but following a conversation with Libby a few weeks ago she had something different in mind.

Having Gorlins Syndrome, Cancer is a word that is used all too often in our house and it is inevitable that the kids want to know more. Libby knows about our condition but asked to be told more about the other Cancers.

I am not one for mincing my words and if the children ask me a question I will answer it as honestly as I can, with as much detail obviously ensuring I am appropriate.

We explained to Libby that Cancer can affect anyone, that there are so many different types, some worse than others and that there are so many different types of treatment, some can be very horrible and sometimes despite all of the Doctors and Nurses efforts the medicine just doesn’t work.

She went away content that we had answered her questions and about an hour later reappeared from her colouring in book.


“Yes Libby”

“You know when we do the haircut for the Princess Trust, can I not raise money for them? Please can I raise money for Boys and Girls near our house that have Cancer, please?”

Of course that wasn’t a problem and so we started looking for charities that she wanted to help.

After a couple of hours of looking and reading she had managed to narrow the Charities down to two. The plan was to raise money for both, however we have decided that Libby will raise money for The Toma Fund, and if I am lucky enough to get the opportunity to do the event I am aiming for next year, then I will raise money for the other.

The Toma fund was close to the heart of my late Cousin, Mark Bulman. Since losing him 6 years ago my Uncle and Aunt have raised money for the charity and for me, was a natural choice. However the choice wasn’t mine.

Here is a little bit about Libby’s chosen charity, taken from their website…..


The Toma Fund

The Toma Fund is dedicated to the memory of Jordan David Thompson and Sophie Ela Atay, who were cousins that tragically died from childhood cancers. Jordan was 15 when he lost his battle with Leukaemia in September 2007 and Sophie was just 2 when she died of Neuroblastoma in March 2010.

The fund began when Jordan was ill and he wanted to do something to help other’s like himself who were going through treatment at Newcastle’s RVI. Through Jordan’s efforts and later those of his family and friends, the Toma Fund raised over £400k towards the support and build of a dedicated unit in the RVI, Newcastle.

The Toma Fund is an independent charity and it is dedicated to helping children, teenagers, young adults (between the ages of 0-24years) and their families, who are going through treatment for childhood cancers in the North East and Cumbria.

By distributing the funds raised The Toma Fund aims to support families who are experiencing financial difficulties caused by caring for and supporting their child through cancer treatment. They also aim to provide equipment for children and young people going through cancer treatment and provide opportunities for children, young people and their families who are going through cancer treatment to have experiences that provide memories for the future

On the 28th of November 2016, Libby will be getting “The Big Chop” courtesy of Toni and Guy. They have very kindly offered to do the chop and style her up after.

Today I have set up her fundraising page. If you would like to sponsor Libby please follow this link:

At the beginning of November we will be doing a Bonus Ball raffle. I am currently sourcing prizes for this so will confirm all the details sooner rather than later.

Words can not describe how proud we are of our princess. She is one brave, generous and loving little lady with a heart of gold.

In advance, we would like to say a massive thank you, we will keep you updated on what is happening with pictures and posts not only on The MaryLou Saga but on Social Media too.

For now……Mwah x

Libby and Caroline